Committee (4th Day)

Part of Scotland Bill – in the House of Lords at 1:30 pm on 15th March 2012.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord O'Neill of Clackmannan Lord O'Neill of Clackmannan Labour 1:30 pm, 15th March 2012

I should like to follow my noble friend and say that I do not support the amendment. I had the privilege of being a neighbour of the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, for many years. I have seen him exercise political skill across a broad spectrum, but on many occasions not without a degree of cynicism. I have to say that his amendment today is just a cynical opportunity to attack the principle of taxation. The idea that referenda have anything of any substance to do with this is just a bit of a smokescreen. The fact of the matter is that a referendum agreed that a Scottish Parliament would have tax-raising powers. The powers have never been exercised. Do we therefore need a referendum to take away powers that we have never used? I do not think so. There is a case, which has been made quite well by the noble Lord, regarding the clumsiness of the manner in which this taxation will be imposed. Were it to be imposed in its present form, it would probably be grossly unfair to too many of the poorest people within Scotland. That is the issue.

Let us not bother about the referendum question. Let us just question whether or not taxation in the form that is being suggested is the most appropriate way of trying to develop a sense of fiscal responsibility in a Scottish Parliament-whether it is separate or devo- maxed, or even with its present fumbling, incompetent and profligate way of expenditure.